The effects of video games on youth
The effects of video games on youth have been a topic of significant interest since their development, particularly regarding violent video games and their potential impact on behaviour. The question of whether violent video games lead to aggressive behaviour in young people remains a contentious issue, with numerous studies having been published but no definitive answer yet reached.
The video game industry
The game industry has grown and is now one of the most profitable industries in the world, with over 200 billion dollars in 2022.
According to WebTribunal, there are over 800 million games in the world and more than half of them contain violence. Among those violent video games, there are Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto.
According to the same website, it is predicted that by 2023, there will be up to three billion gamers worldwide. The video game industry is undoubtedly a significant source of entertainment, largely due to platforms such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming, which allow content creators to stream their gameplay experiences and interact with others. This industry provides gamers with the opportunity to socialize with people from all over the world and has also contributed to the growth of the e-sports industry.
The effects of violent video games according to studies
Many studies have been conducted about the effects that violent video games can have on young individuals. Some of them concluded that violent video games can lead to depression, anxiety and aggression.
For instance, Sarah M. Coyne and Laura Stockdale conducted a study in 2021 about “Growing Up with Grand Theft Auto: A 10-Year Study of Longitudinal Growth of Violent Video Game Play in Adolescents”. They found that those who played the game moderately and relatively consistent are more likely to have increased aggressive behaviour over time.
Similarly, a review conducted by professors from the University of Calgary examined the “association of screen time with internalizing and externalizing behaviour problems of children 12 years or younger.” They discovered significant correlations between children’s behaviour and screen time, indicating that excessive screen time may lead to behavioral problems in young children.
Based on these findings, in 2021, countries like China have implemented restrictions on the amount of time children are allowed to play video games, limiting it to one and a half hours per day on weekdays. The Chinese government has explained this limitation by stating that video games can have adverse effects on children’s mental and physical health, and may lead to addiction.
In 2019, the World Health Organization added a new category to the International classification of diseases, the “gaming disorder”. According to the WHO, gaming disorder is characterized by the following : giving priority to gaming over other activities, impaired control over gaming and continuation of gaming despite negative effects.
On the other hand, other studies claim that there is no evidence of a link between video games and aggressive behavior. For example, a study conducted by Andrew Przybulski, in July 2022, from the University of Oxford, concluded that playing games doesn’t lead to addiction and has no impact on the well-being of players. However he found that gamers who have been playing ten hours or more can show differences in their habits. Nonetheless, the study’s overall conclusion was that the time spent playing games had no significant impact on gamers. In another study from Oxford University in 2021, researchers found that those who played video games for longer periods reported feeling happier.
The University of Calgary also found that video games can offer effective solutions for individuals with learning difficulties associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Another study (“Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study”, authored by Simone Kühn and colleagues) among others has found no ties between playing video games and being aggressive.
In fact, there are some advantages of playing video games such as improving cognition and communication skills, and relieving stress. Moreover, playing violent games doesn’t mean that the kid who is playing will have bad behavior in the future or will be a serial killer. Those studies are based on data extracted or generated from users while playing video games often without their explicit consent or knowledge. This leads to another problem which is the exposure of gamers to illegal data collection mechanisms leading to data protection issues.
Gamers exposed to illegal data collecting
The real concern shouldn’t be whether violent video games lead to aggressive behaviour or not. Companies often collect gamers’ data in order to develop the games, but many of them aren’t General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) friendly, which could potentially cause issues in the near future. The French example VOODOO shows the consequence for companies which don’t respect the Regulation. Indeed, Voodoo, a mobile-game company, was recently punished by the French data protection authority (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) for using gamers’ data, without their consent, to send targeted advertising.
M2 Cyberjustice – Promotion 2022/2023